[Article of Interest] Raising the Ritalin Generation
By Bronwen Hruska
Excerpt: I remember the moment my son’s teacher told us, “Just a little medication could really turn things around for Will.” We stared at her as if she were speaking Greek.
“Are you talking about Ritalin?” my husband asked.
Will was in third grade, and his school wanted him to settle down in order to focus on math worksheets and geography lessons and social studies. The children were expected to line up quietly and “transition” between classes without goofing around. This posed a challenge — hence the medication.
“We’ve seen it work wonders,” his teacher said. “Will’s teachers are reprimanding him. If his behavior improves, his teachers will start to praise him. He’ll feel better about himself and about school as a whole.”
Will did not bounce off walls. He wasn’t particularly antsy. He didn’t exhibit any behaviors I’d associated with attention deficit or hyperactivity. He was an 8-year-old boy with normal 8-year-old boy energy — at least that’s what I’d deduced from scrutinizing his friends.
“He doesn’t have attention deficit,” I said. “We’re not going to medicate him.”
The teacher looked horrified. “We would never suggest you do that,” she said, despite doing just that in her previous breath. “We aren’t even allowed by law to suggest that. Just get him evaluated.”
And so it began.
If “accelerated” has become the new normal, there’s no choice but to diagnose the kids developing at a normal rate with a disorder. Instead of leveling the playing field for kids who really do suffer from a deficit, we’re ratcheting up the level of competition with performance-enhancing drugs. We’re juicing our kids for school.
We’re also ensuring that down the road, when faced with other challenges that high school, college and adult life are sure to bring, our children will use the coping skills we’ve taught them. They’ll reach for a pill.